World Table Tennis Championships Finals 2021: G Sathiyan advances; Manika Batra, Sharath Kamal ousted from singles

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Ayhika Mukherjee were the only Indian singles players who progressed after the opening round of matches.

By Utathya Nag
Picture by Matt Roberts/ Getty Images

In a disappointing opening day for Indians at the World Table Tennis Championships Finals 2021 in Houston, USA, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Ayhika Mukherjee were the only singles players who managed to progress.

Tokyo Olympian G Sathiyan beat Ukraine’s Yaroslav Zhmudenko 4-0 (11-2, 11-9, 11-4, 11-3) in the men’s singles round of 128 on Tuesday to set up a clash against Table Tennis Federation of Russia’s Vladimir Sidorenko in the round of 64.

However, the remaining three Indian men’s singles players in action – Sharath Kamal, Anthony Amalraj and Harmeet Desai – fell in the first hurdle.

Sharath Kamal, a four-time Olympian, lost to Belgium’s Cedric Nuytinck 4-1 (11-9, 5-11, 6-11, 7-11, 9-11) while Harmeet Desai was blanked 4-0 (9-11, 7-11, 7-11, 4-11) by German player Benedikt Duda.

Meanwhile, 35-year-old Anthony Amalraj conceded to Nigeria’s Bode Abiodun 4-3 (6-11, 11-5, 11-5, 8-11, 12-10, 9-11, 6-11) in a battle of veterans. Abiodun, an Olympian at Rio 2016, is 41 years old.

Meanwhile, in the women’s singles, both of India’s Tokyo Olympians - Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee – disappointed.

Manika Batra, India’s best-ranked women’s player, went down 4-3 (11-5, 15-13, 8-11, 4-11, 6-11, 11-4, 7-11) to Brazilian youngster Bruna Takahashi. Sutirtha Mukherjee’s run, on the other hand, ended after a 4-1 (11-8, 4-11, 5-11, 0-11, 4-11) defeat to South Korea’s Choi Hyo-joo.

India’s Madhurika Patkar also fell to Japan’s Saki Shibata 4-0 (7-11, 4-11, 3-11, 8-11).

Youngster Ayhika Mukherjee emerged as India’s only victor in the women’s singles as she beat Egypt’s Farah Abdel-Aziz 4-2 (11-7, 14-16, 8-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-6). Ayhika’s round of 64 opponent will be Japan’s Hina Hayata, the current world No. 18.

There was reason to cheer in mixed doubles though as Sharath Kamal and Archana Kamath beat the Algerian pair of Sami Kherouf and Katia Kessaci 3-0 (11-7, 11-6, 11-7).

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Manika Batra, the other Indian mixed doubles team competing at the world championships, got a bye in the round of 64.

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